Why hide information from the public? (Or The Top Five Reasons to Release ICCSD Record)

At least a couple of individuals (not me) have requested a document the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) board received from ICCSD’s attorney about public comment at board meetings and were refused. I am disappointed that the board and district officials have chosen not to release this document.

What is the school district trying to hide? What can be so sensitive about this document? The board’s public comment policy/guidelines have been controversial enough. The board does not need to make this more controversial by withholding information from the public.



5. Release is not prohibited under Iowa’s open records law since the document was not prepared by an attorney for or in anticipation of a lawsuit.

4. While Iowa’s attorney rules generally prohibit a lawyer from revealing “information relating to the representation of a client,” there is NOTHING that prohibits the board from releasing the document to the public—and it’s the district and board that’s been asked for the document, not the lawyer (so just release it!).

3. If any district officials are going to use the contents of the document to attempt to curtail public comment, the board should be a good sport, level the playing field, and release the document.

2. The veil of secrecy makes some suspect that the board requested the attorney’s opinion to figure out how to squelch critics before the big bond issue. Hiding documents from the public should not be part of a “How to Market a Bond” strategy!

1. Taxpayers paid for this document and the salaries of top district officials–not releasing the document is just silly and petty.

There is nothing that prevents an individual board member from releasing the document. Which board member will have the courage to do what is right and make the document public? Or better yet, how about the whole board demonstrating transparency by releasing the document? Or in addition and even better yet, why not just forget about curtailing free speech, let people express their views, and not spend time and money on stifling critics. Surely, the district has more important issues to focus its attention on?

For more on this issue, please see Chris Liebig’s blog at http://ablogaboutschool.blogspot.com/ where he is clearly correct that the board could release the document.

This entry was posted in Board, Free Speech, ICCSD, Iowa City Schools. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Why hide information from the public? (Or The Top Five Reasons to Release ICCSD Record)

  1. amynielsen77 says:

    Great post Mary!


  2. —————————- Original Message —————————-
    Subject: [RE: RE: [Fwd: RE: Policy Report Open Records Request Response]]
    From: “Julie VanDyke”
    Date: Thu, November 6, 2014 12:48 pm
    To: “Chace Ramey”, “ICCSD Board Listserv ICCSD Board Listserv”, “Steve Murley (Murley.k12.ia.us)”

    Good Afternoon Dr. Ramey,

    Yes, I read Chris’ blog too…that case [Horsfield Materials Inc. v. City of Dyersville, 834 N.W.2d 444 (Iowa 2013) as asserted in the previous denial of release from Chace Ramey] does not seem to be what you think it is, perhaps you should take a closer look at it. The absurdity about your refusal to release the document is that it implies you have something significant to hide. Public suspicions and distrust has increased proportionately with your efforts to block open records requests for the taxpayer paid-for report regarding a public policy from the district’s lawyer (Joe Holland, not you or Jeff McGinness). That distrust was shown to be justified and confirmed after your confession, which contradicted Superintendent Murley’s version of the truth, to having co-written the policy with the superintendent behind closed doors…instead of by board members in open meetings as it really should have been if there was nothing to hide. Remember in March when you contradicted the superintendent’s denial he’d written the board public comment gagging policy, that any member of his administration wrote it, which he then backpedaled on to leave his leader of the district version of the truth at an assertion of Reagan-like memory loss on whether he or any of his administrators had or had not written it?

    Please see the below text and link for expertly explained reasons why your choice to hide public information is a mistake. Not releasing the taxpayer paid for product regarding a board policy regarding the public, when there does not appear to be any legal justification for not providing it to the public, is counterproductive to ever developing public trust in you, the already severely damaged perception of district’s open records process (F on Sunshine report article and Ed Stone & Dave Gurley’s case in which the district was found to have violated open records law access to public information), the board, and the superintendent. Really, it seems so very simple = maybe when ya’all stop hiding and/or blocking access to public information, people will stop assuming you’re hiding and/or blocking access to public information.

    Best wishes,
    Mrs. Van Dyke

    “Kids: get away from the cell phones, get away from the computers, and mail someone a fish before it’s too late”, -Tom Magliozzi
    Car Talk Co-Host; 1992 Peabody Award for excellence Award winner; Pixar Films Actor; 1999 MIT Commencement Speech; BS, Chemical Engineering and Economics, MIT; MA, Engineering Management, Northeastern University; MBA, MIT Sloan School of Management; PhD, Marketing, Boston University



  3. Sorry, Ed Gurwell not Gurley (no disrespect intended)


  4. OML…one more time, clearly more coffee or a nap is in order, Dave Gurwell…


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